Magazine publishers already seeing uptake in sales from Apple’s Newsstand

Paidcontent reports that some magazine publishers are seeing substainally higher sales with Apple’s new newsstand service that puts magazines and newspapers in one place, instead of as disparate apps:

Sales across the board have shot up, more than doubled the normal daily sales rate,” according to Adam Hodgkin, co-founder of Exact Editions, which digitises print titles including The Spectator and Press Gazette for purchase over the web and as iOS apps. “Some magazines have experienced a 150 percent increase in sales. This appears to be continuing beyond the launch weekend.

“Exact Editions noticed exceptionally high levels of activity over the weekend. Freemium sample apps were downloaded much more over the weekend than normal. Sales through iTunes are rapidly getting stronger and stronger.”

I’m not surprised. Newsstand is a much more elegant way to consume news content on the iPad. By putting magazines in one place, it’s much easier to consume magazine content on the iPad. In addition, newsstand downloads magazines and newspapers in the background. After a new issue is released it automatically downloads to your iPad.

Most news apps still have a long way to go, but newsstand should help make the experience better for users. A better user experience should mean more sales.


Netflix uses its price increase to bring subscribers to the future (could news organizations do the same?)

Netflix’s price increase was largely created to encourage subscribers to adopt streaming only, because Netflix clearly sees that streaming is the future of video, not plastic disks shipped in the mail (and stored in big, expensive warehouses).

Netflix also wants to encourage content holders to release more content digitally. If the majority of Netflix’s customers are on streaming only plans (which is not the case today), that would push reluctant content holders to see that the days of the DVD are over.

A lot of people are upset with Netflix now, but in five years it will be clear that this was the prudent decision. They’ll end up convincing more subscribers to go streaming only and sell more new subscribers on the idea of streaming video, especially as their streaming library grows. Their streaming library will grow as content holders see more and more people signing up for Netflix streaming (and hopefully my streaming video dreams will come true).

The Nieman Lab tries to see if these lessons could be applied to the news industry:

Newspaper publishers started this process several years ago, saying, “Let’s have these print customers pay more of the freight of creating and delivering print.” Since then, community dailies that used to cost a quarter a day havetripled to 75 cents, and The New York Times goes for $6 on Sunday. They have priced in more of the cost of that expensive newsprint, ink, and delivery.

Now, this year, we’ve seen added in the charging for digital access. We’ve begun to see the answer to this question: How much will consumers pay for digital access? That’s still uncertain, though early evidence is coming in from The New York Times, Time Inc., and Journalism Online experiments, among others. In newspapers and in magazines, we see the interim play: the bundled, all-access subscription — pay us once and get both analog and digital, print and pixel. That’s a move for more consumer revenue in the short-term, but also a longer-term pricing play to get pure digital revenue as readers give up print.

What do you think? In my view, legacy news organizations, particularly newspapers, have been double- and triple- downing on print. Investment in digital has seen fits and starts, and there hasn’t been enough attention paid as to how to monetize the future, which is clearly digital distribution of news.

I have a dream for streaming movies, and it doesn’t involve mailing DVDs around the world.


Shirky: The new news environment needs to be chaotic

Clay Shirky is out with another great blog post. Particularly interesting is his view that news needs to be free — for democracy, for society, for openness:

And news has to be free, because it has to spread. The few people who care about the news need to be able to share it with one another and, in times of crisis, to sound the alarm for the rest of us. Newspapers have always felt a tension between their commercial and civic functions, but when a publication drags access to the news itself over to the business side, as with the paywalls at The Times of London or the Tallahassee Democrat, they become Journalism as Luxury. In a future dominated by Journalism as Luxury, elites would still get what they need (a tautology in market economies), but most communities would suffer; imagine Bell, California times a thousand, with no Ruben Vives to go after the the politicians.

Imagine other vital information not being free — to consume or spread. We once had a world like that. For better and for worse, the Internet has broken up the old models of publishing, but in the end it has unleashed knowledge.  We need new news model that will allow journalism and information to flow freely.

Paywalls will lead to ignorance and corruption. Is that really what news organizations want to foster?